Lady Raiders Look Towards Another Successful Season|
The Lady Raiders are looking to build off of last year's trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Oct. 20, 2011
by Britton Drown
Jordan Barncastle understands how the Lady Raiders must approach this season. It's simple. After reaching the NCAA Tournament last season, they must continue to push forward, and take steps in the right direction.
As a senior, it's her final chance to do just that, and in the process leave a lasting legacy. So as official team practices began earlier this month, she adopted a personal approach to enter the season with--no regrets.
"That's kind of our motto this year," she said. "No regrets. Just leaving it all out on the floor."
That approach began when she arrived as a freshman in 2008, but it took perhaps the most significant step forward last season when the Lady Raiders reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years.
"We aren't just content with making it [to the NCAA Tournament]," Barncastle said. "We want more. We want to make it to the Sweet 16, we want to make it to the Elite 8, we want to win a Big 12 championship. We have a lot higher standards for ourselves."
The Lady Raiders are coming off a 22-win season in which they defeated three Top-20 teams in the final month of the season, including a win over No. 1 Baylor at home on Feb. 19.
"It was all exciting last year," junior guard Casey Morris said. "I think we are all happy and pleased with last season, but I think this season we are going into it and letting that one go, and just letting this one be an even better season."
Head coach Kristy Curry said she has seen that drive to improve early this year in their opening practices. The Lady Raiders had 100 percent attendance at the team's voluntary workouts over the summer, and it's clear that the commitment is already paying off.
"It's that extra little bit of commitment," Curry said. "You can see by the looks on their faces and the pop in their step that they feel more prepared heading into the year because they worked so hard in the off-season. When your players are telling you that nobody missed a day, that is pretty impressive."
The Lady Raiders return four starters from last season's NCAA Tournament team including senior Kierra Mallard who averaged 12 points per game, and added a team-high 63 blocks and 7.2 rebounds per game.
And so with just less than a month before the start of the season, the Lady Raiders are set to take that pivotal step in the right direction.
"We are starting to click together," Morris said. "After getting that last season under our belt, we can go into this season confident and play like we have been playing together for a long time. I think we are playing like a family now. We are all sisters and it is good to have that chemistry on the floor."
It's certainly has Curry eager to see what her team can accomplish this year.
"We're excited in taking the next steps," Curry added. "[We] feel we can be that one team that surprises a lot of folks this year."
In other words, they'll certainly have no regrets.